Boosting Product-Market Fit with UX

UX methodologies to leverage and why.

Product-market fit is an indicator of your product’s likelihood of success in the real world. Although its metrics can be quite elusive, it’s almost always definitive of your product’s health and growth potential.

Whether your product finds a comfy home in the hands of target users may boil down to several key factors. Bearing these factors in mind, we can use UX methodologies to build out and launch an MVP with confidence. Continue reading to learn about four broad factors that determine product-market fit, along with some of their components, and what UX design and research methods can be used to address your product’s success in each of them.

Rawan AbuShaban

February 1, 2018

1. How users receive your product.

User acquisition.

How much do you spend advertising your product in order to get people to use it? Is the growth of your user base consistent?

How much you spend on product advertisements, aka, how hard you have to try, indicates how motivated users are to seek out your offering on their own accord. Do you have to drain your budget on advertising just to get your product into people’s hands? The less you have to spend, the better — not just for your budget, but because it shows how much people are naturally drawn to what your product has to offer. A successful product should not be a hard sell, rather it should be a good response to a target group’s wants or needs, as long as it’s something within their scope of utility — a fancy way of saying that it’s useful to them.

User engagement.

Are people actively using your product?

A natural first question when diving into product-market fit: are people using it? With digital products, user engagement is easier to track — software downloads, user activity, frequency of use, what features are being used and which are being ignored, etc.

Product dependence is a solid indicator of whether users find your solution valuable. They are motivated to return — but where does that motivation come from? UX research methodologies help you not only understand what motives work after they become present, but can help your product team predict and confirm incentives by uncovering a deeper understanding of target user needs, environment, behavior.

UX Recommendations:

Leverage in-depth research techniques that put you into the mind and motions of a person you want to get to know better.

Methods: contextual inquiry, user interviews, diary studies.

2. How users use your product.

User retention.

Is there a high drop-off rate? Or do users continue to use your product over time?

Getting users to use your product can be a feat, but what might prove even more difficult is having them use it continuously. Previously, EchoUser helped Castlight Health tackle a downward spike in user engagement on their insurance platform. The cause? Poor first-time user experience (FTUX). Users weren’t able to get far after onboarding due to the lack of intuitive design, online support, and overall context of the platform.

After months of immersive research and validating design concepts with real end users, we delivered prototypes and mockups of a new, redesign tool that included step-by-step onboarding, enhanced user flows, and clear platform navigation, all of which received positive feedback from real end users. Eureka!

If you’re interested in learning more about what makes users stick, check out our work with Stitcher to see a more specific example of how users go from casual to habitual.

User spending.

Does your product offer solutions that users are willing to pay for?

What is your product worth? If your users truly value it, they’ll pay money for it.

Choosing a optimum price point is important. It should reflect how much users are willing to pay for your product. It’s hard to put a price on a product, especially if you’re selling more than just the sum of its parts. The monetary value a user might put on a product’s experience illustrates how well it corresponds to their wants and needs. So, how do you create value?

Look at products that dominate their industries; for example: the Nintendo Switch, which is now the highest sold home console, ever.

The Switch, a concept that could have easily slipped into the dreaded gimmick zone, is a device that essentially charges users over 400 dollars to play a 60 dollar Zelda game.

However, the Switch poses many great features that augment the gaming experience. It also boasts a strong visual identity and brand, backed by the Nintendo legacy, as well as a unique take on user interaction. The superbly designed console combines elements that are delightful on their own into one, cohesively brilliant device. We actually wrote an article about how great it is, so you should check that out, too.

UX Recommendations.

When creating a product, don’t just aim for usable — users want to see something useful, easy, and aesthetically pleasing.

Methods: user interviews, interaction design, visual design & branding.

Source: Know Your Meme.

3. How users feel about your product.

Net promoter score.

How many users would refer your product to someone else?

This is the type of evangelism your product will need to scale not only in its initial market, but in other geographies and audiences, as well. However, once you have user retention and spending down, a consistently great experience will have people hooked. The key to this is enhancing your product over time.

Product dependency & emotional attachment.

Would the quality of life of users increase or decrease in the absence of your product?

This is the ultimate test. Do users rely on your product? Do they need it? Want it? Love it?

UX Recommendations.

Once your product leads to real-life workflows, study those. What are your users pain points? What do they love the most? Listen to user complaints and feedback so that you can offer great customer support and product refinements in return. Listen to your users. And iterate, iterate, iterate.

Methods: Journey mapping, personas, iterative design.

4. Your product’s brand appeal.

Branding & messaging.

Does your product’s branding resonate with your target audience?

While this seems like icing on the cake, having a brand that target users can stand behind is becoming increasingly important as product differentiation becomes harder to prove.

UX Recommendations.

While initial user research can help you form ideas early on about what your brand should be, visual design and anything to do with how you market is anterior to your product. It should be the last thing you focus on, although definitely not the least important. Although brand doesn’t impact functionality, it can make or break your product’s market success.

Methods: visual design, style guides, UX writing, corresponding written/visual rhetoric backed by deep user insights.

UX could make the difference between business success and defeat. The methodologies listed above can help you unlock longterm user adoption, spending, and even evangelism, giving your product the chance early on to build a relationship with your target user groups. At the bottom line, product-market fit will come down to how highly your product resonates with the people for whom it was designed.

Thoughts?

Compelling product & digital experiences.

EchoUser is a UX agency that delivers bold design solutions for complex business challenges. We integrate design and user research to create unparalleled human-centered experiences, empowering customers and driving business value for clients ranging from startups to Fortune 50 companies like Google, Salesforce, and GE. We’re currently taking on new client partners for 2018 and beyond.

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